Published 1887

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    MONROE COUNTY lies partly in the Tennessee Valley and partly in the Unaka Mountains. Like other counties of this region, it is rich in minerals, especially
iron and marble, neither of which have yet been extensively developed. The western portion of the county is traversed by four parallel valleys, through which run Sweetwater, Pond, Fork and Bat Creeks. The largest stream within the county is Lillico Run (Tellico Run?), which rises, in the mountains, and flowing north unites with the Little Tennessee, which forms the dividing line between Monroe and Blount Counties. Both of these streams are navigable a portion of the year. The greater part of the county was originally included in the Hiwassee District, and at one time contained several Indian towns, among which were Tellico, Chota, Citico, Toqua and Tennessee. It also contains the ruins of the first structure erected in Tennessee by Anglo-Americans. It is known as old Fort Loudon, and was built in 1756 by order of the Earl of Loudon, then governor of Virginia. It was garrisoned by a force of 200 men under Capts. Demere and Stuart. Its armament consisted of twelve cannon brought across the mountains on pack horses. In 1760 the Cherokee Indians, instigated by the French, captured the fort, and afterward killed the greater part of the garrison. It was never reoccupied. After the purchase of the Hiwassee District the county was rapidly settled.

    Among the first settlers in the vicinity of Tellico Plains were Thomas, John and Andrew L. Henderson, Austin and Alexander Rider, Samuel McSpadden, James and Michael Ghormley, Isaac, David and William Stephens, John, Jacob and Joseph Smith, William and Benjamin Reagan, William Williams, William Ainesworth, Michael Carroll and William Bradley. The last two named in 1821 erected a small iron furnace, which was continued in operation until some time in the forties, when more extensive works were established. The western part of the county was settled by William Patten, T. C. and Hugh Goddard, James Axely (the renowned pioneer preacher), William Neal, John Lotspeich, Daniel Heiskell, John Fine, Charles Owen, Jonas Derrick, Rev. Robert Sneed, Stephen McCaslin and brothers, Eli and Pressly Cleveland, Hugh H. Gregory and Alexander Biggs. In the central and northern portions of the county were the Johnsons, Montgomerys, McCrays, McCroskeys, Kelsos, Tiptons, McGhees, Blackburns, Harrises, Calloways, Bicknells and Hickses. 

    The county court was organized in 1820, but as the records have been lost or destroyed nothing is known of the original members composing it. The first meetings were held at William Dickson's, on the Tennessee River. Later the courts are said to have been held at Caldwell's, now known as the Henderson place, about three miles east from Madisonville. Three places were put in nomination for the seat of justice, viz.:   Caldwell's, Hall's Ferry and the one chosen. Soon after the town for the county seat was laid off a brick courthouse was erected, which a few years later was destroyed by fire. It was replaced by a second brick building, which was burned during the civil war, and in 1868 the present courthouse was completed. The first jail was a brick building, standing upon the site of the present one. It was used until the war, when it was torn down by the citizens at the demand of the Federal troops. In 1866 the county court ordered the erection of a new jail, which was completed two years later, at a cost of $8,300.

    The circuit court was organized at the house of William Dickson, on the south bank of the Tennessee River, on the first Monday of May, 1820, by Charles F. Keith, who continued to preside until 1839, when the county was transferred to the Second Judicial Circuit. The succeeding judges were as follows: Edward Scott, to 1844; E. Alexander, 1844-57; J. M. Welcker, 1857-58; George Brown, 1858-63; E. T. Hall, 1864-78. In 1878 the county was placed in the Third Circuit, of which S. A. Rodgers has since been the judge.

    The chancery court for the district, composed of Blount, Monroe and McMinn Counties, was organized at Madisonville, on April 2, 1832, by William B. Reese. After the adoption of the new constitution in 1835, the district was changed to comprise McMinn, Monroe and Bradley, and Thomas L. Williams became the chancellor.

    The first lawyers who located in Madisonville were Finley Gillespie and Indell  D.Wright, both of whom were leading members of the bar for many years. The latter was a very large man physically, and was somewhat rough in his manners. He was a good speaker, and was several times elected to the Legislature. John O. Cannon began the practice of law about 1827, and continued to reside at Madisonville until elected a circuit judge, when he removed to Cleveland. H. H. Stephens, who studied in the office of Cannon, received a license to practice some time in the thirties, and became the partner of his preceptor. He was a good advocate, somewhat of a politician, and served one or more terms in each house of the General Assembly. George Brown and J. B. Heiskell, both of whom have since become prominent, began the study of law with Finley Gillespie. The educational advantages of the former had been limited, and the beginning of his legal career is said to have been very unpromising. He was exceedingly awkward in manner, and his first attempts at public speaking were utter failures, but a strong native intellect, united with great energy, soon placed him in the front rank of his profession, and in 1858 he was elected judge of the Second Judicial Circuit. Heiskell, after obtaining a license, practiced at Madisonville for several years, then removed to Memphis, and afterward was elected attorney-general by the supreme court. John L. Hopkins began the practice of his profession about 1852, and remained at Madisonville eight or ten years. He then removed to Georgia, where he has since occupied a seat upon the bench of the supreme court. He is now one of the leading lawyers of Atlanta.  Among the other attorneys who resided in Madisonville previous to the war were D. P. Hurly, Joseph Wright and William Aiken. Judge D. M. Key, who is a native of the county, also began his legal career there, but soon removed to Kingston, and thence to Chattanooga. His father, John Key, was a local Methodist preacher, and an early settler of the county. The present members of the bar in Monroe County are W. B. Stephens, C. W. Hicks, S. P. Hale, T. E. H. McCroskey, Z. T.   Hunt, Robert Prichard and R. K. Robinson, of Madisonville, and S. E. Young and J. B. Sizer, of Sweetwater.

    The following persons have been officers of the county since its organization:

     Sheriffs--John McCroskey, 1820-30; John Henderson, 1830-32; James A. Haire 1832-34; James Vaughn, 1834-38; M. Henderson, 1838-44; Abraham Dyer, 1844-46; James H. Alexander, 1846-50; James A. Wright, 1850-52; Robert Russell, 1852-54; Robert Parks, 1854-56; John C. Vaughn, 1856-62; A. B. Clift, 1862-64; J. J. Crippen, 1864-70; J. McMullin, 1870-72; J. E. Houston, 1872-76; J. C. Warren, 1876-80; W. F. Ghormley, 1880-84; B. B. Hunt, 1884.

    Clerks of the county court--William S. B!air, 1820-30; William S. Calloway, 1830-36; James M. Brayles, 1836-42; John A. Stephens, 1842-56; A. T. Hicks, 1856-64; B. C. Pettett, 1864-70; A. T. Hicks, 1870-74; Arch. Mason, 1874-78; D. E. Harris, 1878-86; W. N. Magill, 1886.

    Clerks of the circuit court--John B. Tipton, 1820-36; E. H. Wear, 1836-40; Young L. Bicknell, 1840-44; E. E. Griffith, 1844-56; J. E. Houston, 1856-64; William M. Smith, 1864-70; E. E. Griffith, 1870-82; H. L. IsbilI, 1882.

    Clerks and masters--James A. Coffin, 1832-63; J. R. Robinson, 1863-65; S. P. Hale,  1865-76; J. E. Houston, 1876-87; V. Stickley, 1887.

    Registers--John Grimes, 1820-28; Joseph Marshall, 1828-36; William Griffith, 1836-40, Josiah J. Orr, 1840-48; William G. Bogle, 1848-56; E. D. Malone, 1856-64; A. M. Peace, 1864- 70; E. D. Malone, 1870-78; J. W. Williams, 1878-86; D. H. Joines. 1886.

    Trustees--William Williams, 1860-70; Robert Russell, 1870-72; I. A. McSpadden, 1872-76; Thomas D. Wilson, 1876-78; W. F. Hudson, 1878-82; J. C. Warren, 1882-84; J. M. Lee, 1884.

    The permanent seat of justice for Monroe County was located about 1822, and previous to 1830 was known as Tellico. Much to the regret of the later residents of the town, the Legislature of that year changed the name to Madisonville, in accordance with a petition circulated by James Madison Greenway. The land upon which the town is built was donated to the county by Robert Snodgrass and John F. Henderson. The first commissioners were Charles Kelso, Samuel Bicknell, Jesse Melton, Indell D. Wright and J. Gniffin. The first stores were opened by Samuel Bicknell, John Edgar, Hambright Block and Samuel Blackburn. Among the other merchants who located in the town during the succeeding year and previous to the civil war were Christopher McGinnis, Guilford Cannon, J. M. Greenway, Kelly & Upton, Stakely & Smith, William Henderson, Haire & Grant,Wesley Stephens, H. Wear, Joseph Johnson, J. A. & C. W. Coffin and Lasater & Dickson. The first hotel was opened by Christopher McGinnis on the northeast corner of the public square. Another was opened soon after on the southwest corner by Samuel Bayless. McGinnis was succeeded by John G. Glass, and later the house was kept by Dr. I. I. Morrow and Granville C. Torbett, the latter of whom served several terms in the Legislature, and at the beginning of the war was elected State treasurer. In 1832 a publishing house was established by John F. Henderson and Samuel M. Johnson for the publication of "Gunn's Domestic Medicine." The business assumed large proportions, and several other works were issued among which were "The World's Wonder," an exposition of Free Masonry; "Woodville," a novel; "The Botanic Physician," and other medical works. Henderson & Johnson were succeeded by B. Parker and J. E. Carter, who continued the business until some time in the forties. About 1834 a newspaper called the the Hiwassee Patriot was established by A. W. Elder, who continued two or three years, when he removed to Athens. The Baptist Monitor, a religious paper edited by Rev.Woods, was also published two or three years, beginning about 1835. The first church in the town was probably a log building erected by the Methodists, who are now occupying their second frame house. Creed Fulton was one of the first local preachers, and George Aiken one of the first circuit riders. In 1824 or 1825 the Presbyterians built a brick church in the northeast part of town, which they occupied for about twenty years. At the end of that time their present house was erected. The first regular pastor was Robert McAlpin. He was succeeded by Elijah M. Eagleton. The Baptists also erected a house of worship soon after the town was laid out. It was a large log structure, and was occupied until about 1855, when it was succeeded by the present frame building. Among the early ministers of this denomination were William Ballew, George Snyder, Robert F. Sneed and John Scruggs. About 1841 a Cumberland Presbyterian Church was organized, but no house of worship was erected until a short time before the war. A brick house was then built which was occupied until about ten years ago, when it was torn down and a frame building erected. 

    About 1826 or 1827 a school known as Bolivar Academy was established by Rev. Creed  Fulton, and soon after was made a county academy. Mr. Fulton continued as principal of the school for a few years, and was succeeded by A. H. Mathes. The latter's successor was Samuel H. Doak, who remained until 1841. From that time until 1850 no regular principal was employed, and the house was occupied by various persons teaching private schools. In 1848 the Legislature passed an act appointing a new board of trustees, and ordering them to erect a building for a female department. This building was completed in June, 1850, and the school went into operation under the direction of Miss C. M. Melville, who continued as principal until 1854. From that time until the war the principal was S. M. Gaine. In 1854 a new building was erected for the male department. In 1865 Mr. S.P. Hale was installed as principal of both departments, which were then consolidated. Two years later R. H.  Ramsey assumed charge of the female department, and from that time until 1880 the two departments were taught separately. In March of the latter year a new building was completed, in which is provided a room for each sex. The present principal is Prof. J. C. Hicks. In 1849 the Legislature passed an act incorporating Hiwassee College with the following board of trustees: John Key, Lewis Carter, John F. Galbraith, J. A. Coffin, W. M. Stakely, John B.Tipton, William Heiskell, J. B. Heiskell, I. T. Lenoir, Samuel Henderson, Sr., D. M. Key, Madison Clyburn, James Clyburn, Joseph Fooshee, George W. Gibson, N. W. Hawn, Elisha Griffith, William Dyer and John Hatten. The college had its origin in a school established in Fork Creek by Prof. Gibson. About 1845 it was removed to its present location, and at first occupied a Methodist Church. A camp-ground had been constructed adjoining the church, and many students took up quarters in the board structure erected there. Prof. Gibson was succeeded by Robert E. Doak, assisted by S. P. Hale, and under their instruction the institution educated several men who have since achieved distinguished success in business and in the professions. The institution has ever maintained its high character, and is widely known for the excellence of its management. During more than a quarter of a century it has been under the direction of Rev. J. H. Brunner.

    The largest town in Monroe County is Sweet Water, situated in the western portion of the county, on the East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia Railroad. It was established in 1852 upon land owned by I. T. Lenoir and Henry Mayes. The first stores were opened by  Haun & Stakely, McKeldin & Co., W. C. Lillard & Co., and Wright & Coffin. Among  others who engaged in business prior to the war were J. H. Patton, John Fitzgerald; Boyd, Spillman & Vaughn; Wright, Williams & Co. and W. H. Taylor & Co. The first hotel was opened by John C. Vaughn upon the site of the Monroe House. Buckner, Rowan & Mayes put into operation a grist-mill in the building now occupied as a warehouse. The first church was erected by the Presbyterians in 1857. The Methodists and Baptists each built houses soon after, and in 1876 a church was erected by Daniel Heiskell and donated to the Cumberland Presbyterians. The first school was the Sweet Water Union Institute, established in 1858 in the building now occupied by the Sweet Water Female Seminary. The latter institution was opened in 1886 under the auspices of the Baptist Church with J. H. Richardson as president. About 1870 the Masonic lodge completed a hall, which in 1874 was transferred to the Methodist Episcopal Church South for school purposes, and has since been occupied as a female institute. In 1885 Sweet Water college for males was incorporated, and went into operation with J. L. Backman as president. All of the above institutions are ably managed, and furnish excellent instruction.

    During the war the town and surrounding country suffered severely. The depot was burned, and much other property destroyed and carried away by both armies. At the close of hostilities, however, the unexcelled resources of this section soon restored it to its former prosperity, and at the present time Sweet Water is the largest shipping point between Knoxville and Chattanooga. The mercantile interests of the town are represented by the following individuals and firms: B. A. Clift, McCaslin & Porter, J. H. Lowry and W. F. Hutcheson & Co., general merchandise; R. F. Scruggs, F. Bogard and J. H. Johnston, drugs; James May, hardware; R. S. Harlis, jewelry; R. M. Cleveland and John Gamble, groceries. In 1883 the Sweet Water Mill Company, of which John K. Brown is president, and John B. Whitman secretary and treasurer, erected a large flouring-mill, which was destroyed by fire in 1885. It was immediately rebuilt, and put into operation in1886. It has a capacity of 150 barrels of flour, and from 250 to 300 bushels of meal per day. The other manufacturing establishments are two planing mills owned by J. W. Clark, and Albert Stradley respectively, and a bottling factory operated by Lenoir & Gillette. In 1885 the Bank of Sweet Water was established, with a capital of $50,000. The officers are John M. Jones, president, and J. A. Magill, cashier.

    The first newspaper published in Sweet Water was the Forerunner established in 1867 by
H. L. Fry, who in a few months sold it to J. M. Fisher. The latter changed the name to the Enterprise, and after conducting it about two years transferred it to Mr. Woodward. Subsequently J. H. Bean became the proprietor, and changed the name to the Monroe Democrat. He was succeeded by D. B. Grace, and for the past three years J. S. Yearwood has been the editor and proprietor. In 1884 the News, a Republican paper, was established by F. H. Scruggs, the present proprietor.

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